There’s a whole chunk of Scripture in Philippians 4 about turning worries into prayers. This is a necessary practice for someone like me who tends to worry and neglect prayer when my worries give me a sense of false power.
I think that, in some weird way, worrying is going to get me closer to God. Like, if I can manage to worry about the thing I’m ruminating over then maybe I can somehow control the outcome, I can make it better… solve the problem. I can confidently attest that choosing to worry instead of praying has never helped me or brought me one bit closer to peace.
The Message Translation of Philippians 4:6-7 reads, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
I love that imagery. The thought of praise and honest requests being the very things that shape my fretful worries into honest prayers.
Choosing to pray instead of worry is a practice.
It is a physical and mental thing. It is an approach to your entire life that you must choose over and over again. You can’t simply do it once. You must rinse and repeat for best results.
Today I am writing to the person who is worried sick over nearly everything. Worry has become a pattern in your life. In fact, it has become a way of life. You’re surprised and a little scared to look at yourself and realize you’ve become so consumed with negative thoughts and worry about the future. You desire to be full of faith but you don’t know where to even begin.
Dear friend, I have been there before. I have lived in that space. I have felt trapped in my own mind and I have fought my way out of it.
We are here to give you hope this day – to tell you that the best remedy we’ve found for worry is exactly what is written in the Bible: sculpt your worries into prayers and remember to say thank you.
Just start small like that. I know it seems too simple but trust me, something so simple changed my heart.
The gratitude piece is so essential. Find some way to start tracking the things you are thankful for- even if they feel so small compared to your problems. Start praising. Start rejoicing in the little. Start forging a path through the woods with your gratitude. I swear it changes things. It transforms you and it rewrites neural pathways in your brain so you can begin to see the good in your life, instead of just the bad.
You might be quick to say that “not being anxious about anything” is a lofty and unrealistic goal but how do you know if you’ve never tried out the remedy? If you haven’t forged worries into petitions or chosen to praise God in the midst of the storm?
It might be time to try something different. To force yourself into a new practice of prayer and gratitude. You are never too late to change – to start thinking differently – to start going to battle against the fear differently.
It’s never too late.
You’re never too late.
In the realm of God’s timing, you are right on time.
Pull out the journal. Start with one request and one thank you. It’s time to start.